New York City Blog April 20 – April 26

Daffodils at Judson Memorial Church

Daffodils at Judson Memorial Church

Spring has arrived! These daffodils were on a table at Judson Memorial Church’s Easter service.

Detective Steve Kulchek hated reading until his Uncle Con (Retired NYPD detective) introduced him to John D. MacDonald. Steve’s parents were killed in a boating accident and his Uncle Con and Aunt Bess raised him. Why read sexy mysteries about boats when the kid’s parents died on one, you ask. Con thought it was a good idea to show the ocean’s beauty as well as its horrors. It worked. Steve loves fooling around on water skis and reads, mostly Playboy, Sports Illustrated and nonfiction with a little Michael Connolly and John D. MacDonald thrown in.
When retired detective, Con Haggerty, was a young cop he went to a Park Avenue apartment to pick up a man for questioning. The man’s wife told Con he was at the Frick. Con assumed the Frick was a movie house. This was in the days when the upper east side had movie houses. After casing the neighborhood, Con learned to his chagrin that the Frick was a private collection of western European and Renaissance art. He found the man in front of the Ingres. Case solved.
Ingres's Comtesse d'Haussonville

Ingres’s Comtesse d’Haussonville

New York City Blog April 13 – April 19

One of my favorite characters in THE LEMROW MYSTERY, Wellington Chen, would have been intrigued by the Museum of Chinese in America. It’s in a small building on busy, chaotic Centre Street. I was especially interested in the The Lee Family exhibit. The Lee family have been in New York’s Chinatown since 1888. To this day, they have an important presence. After visiting the museum, I walked past Lee Insurance on Pell Street. It was painful to read and to see exhibits about the discrimination the Chinese endured. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 denied the Chinese the following: entrance into the country, testifying in court, owning property, voting, or marrying a non-Chinese. The Magnuson Act repealed the law in 1943.

 If you squint you can see Isabel Allende being interviewed by Amy Goodman at the Americas Society. The meeting was organized and run like a strict convent school or the est training, but the audience was good nature and docile. Isabel Allende is a spitfire. Dramatically, she explained that she was always a lousy journalist because she never told the truth. Pablo Neruda told her to get out of journalism and do what she did so well, story telling.
Isabel Allende and Amy Goodman

Isabel Allende and Amy Goodman

I got this recipe from Detective Steve Kulchek’s Aunt Bess. It was her way of getting him to eat vegetables. I call it mystery peppers because the mystery is how something so good can have only two ingredients: sweet peppers and sweet potatoes (or yams). Parboil the peppers for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the sweet potatoes (not skinned) in aluminum until soft. After the peppers have cooled, stuff them with the sweet potatoes. Put this into the oven for about twenty minutes so that the two ingredients marry. Done!
Sweet Peppers filled with Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Peppers filled with Sweet Potatoes

Query:  Is it fair to have Wall Street close down on Good Friday?  Since when has Wall Street gotten religion?
For Easter let me quote W. H. Auden:
“Leave the dead concerns of
Yesterday behind us,
Face with all our courage
What is now to be.”

New York City Blog April 6 – April 12

Every time I stick my nose out the door, I’m walking in the shoes of one of my characters in my series.  On Thursday, at the Real Immigration Reform rally, a portly man in a tired suit announced to a friend and me that he had run for president and for mayor and he was thinking of running for governor. He pressed his card into my friend’s hand. It’s the sort of prop that’s gold dust to a mystery writer. The late Elmore Leonard would have loved this guy. His NY craziness and attitude were displayed on his card, loaded down with dubious credentials.I was thinking of a scene with him and my detective, Steve Kulchek. Steve is a tough, cynical New Yorker who has a soft spot for weirdos.
Judson Memorial Church

Judson Memorial Church

Usually, I hate rallies: the screaming into the squeaky microphone, the haranguing of a group that’s already on your side, the hustle and crowds, the awkwardness of holding a banner that’s caught in the wind. The Real Immigration Reform was different. The speakers were focused on Congress having let us down and Obama not following through on his campaign promises. The three hundred plus crowd had  African, Asian and Latino representatives as well as representatives from various unions, Cabrini and Judson Memorial Church. Judson has been in the vanguard of institutions protesting ICE (U. S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement) treating immigrants as if they were criminals and separating families.
A rally participant

A rally participant

Talk about caring. This is a recent mangled piece of mail received from our postal service.

Other side of envelope

Other side of package

Damaged package

Damaged package

New York City Blog: April 30 – April 5

I hadn’t been to the Union Square market in ages, but this past week when I returned, I wasn’t disappointed. This gentleman was not camera shy, nor was his dog.

A Union Square Regular and his Dog

A Union Square Regular and his Dog

On Friday I joined a friend for dinner at the venerable restaurant, Sevilla.Because of the gusty winds on Seventh Avenue, I thought I was a going to be blown to Spain along with the balloons and dog.
Balloons on windy 7th Avenue

Balloons on windy 7th Avenue

Lynn Rogers, a Staten Island woman who has made forgotten cemeteries her cause, gave an informative and amusing lecture at the Arsenal. Did you know that our parks department now owns at least three non-denominational cemeteries and has been responsible in restoring them?
During the Civil War many of the northern recruits were Irish fleeing the Irish Famine. As soon as the men and boys stepped off the boat they were given the choice: do you want to fight or do you want to fight. The lot of the immigrant has seldom been easy and theirs was no exception.In 1851 a New York newspaper wrote about the Marine Hospital being crowded to access with the numerous deaths of the starving Irish. Help Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries is now working on restoring Marine Hospital-Quarantine Cemetery (1799-1858).